This New Year's Yoga Retreat at Doe Bay was my 7th year leading this wonderful retreat. At this point, most attendees have been in past years because folks just keep coming back. The nourishment we create through practice, community, yoga and food during this weekend is unparalleled and I love coming back again and again as a touchstone to the start of each my new years. This year, with the snow moving through the San Juan islands day before, we practiced a great deal of non-attachment as the weekend approached, debating whether the retreat would go forward. Luckily, the weather behaved and the roads were cleared and we came together again for 3 days of reflection, insight and connection. Our focus this weekend was being present. So often the new year holds plans for the coming year or reflection on the past but it felt potent to simply sit with what is, moment to moment and that was our practice for the weekend. Below you'll find quotes and poems that were part of the weekend. I hope they inspire!
What calls us to practice?
Before class Saturday morning I was listening to a podcast with Pádraig Ó Tuama, a poet, theologian and healer living in Ireland. His talk was moving and spoke to many things I had been contemplating about how to come into relationship and conversation during hard times. He has a beautiful presence and profound wisdom and I highly recommend giving it a listen. Near the end eh shared a poem that made me really stand up and listen, in fact, I listened to it several times. While his lens is Catholicism, everything he was speaking to spoke to my practice and why I practice. I shared it in class and several folks felt the same way, so here I am sharing it with you. Enjoy...
Yesterday on the way to teach my benefit class for Thanksgiving Day I saw not one, not two, but three rainbows over the course of about 5 minutes. It was breathtaking, it was awe inspiring and it also reminded me how much I had lost touch with every day wonder and joy. These past two years have felt overwhelming at best as we navigate all the challenges of our social and political systems. Instead of taking moments in the day to see joy, I'm often focusing my energy on what is broken. It made me take the gratitude I practice on Thanksgiving all the more seriously. Its not to say I won't stop paying attention and I won't stop fighting injustices I see in the world, but it is recognizing that I need to spend more time practicing gratitude around the every day miracles and wonders happening in my life around me. It was a powerful reminder and one I was so grateful to receive.
The fifth chakra resides in the the region of the throat and as such, has to do with communication. Communication isn't just about conversation with others, but also the conversation we have with ourselves. Accessing the energy of the fifth chakra gives us the capacity to know and speak our own truths. The biggest part of speaking our own truth is listening first to our own deepest desires. Find inspiration in this poem by David Whyte.
The fourth chakra resides in the heart center. This is our energetic heart, not our physical heart and has to do with love, compassion and our ability to extend these energies not only to those around us, but also to ourselves. Sometimes, self love is the hardest expression of love for us to connect to. This poem by David Whyte may help you find this ability to connect to love for yourself on your journey.
Opening up the energy of the 3rd chakra, we welcome in the big energy and heat of fire. Fire is potent and transformative and can connect us to our ambitions and our will. It can drive us forward. Too much of this energy can lead to burn out and anger. We can temper the energy of the 3rd chakra by connecting to its solar aspects and rather than connecting to the heat and power of the sun at high noon, we might instead think of the sun at sunrise, slowly and gradually warming as the energy builds. Connect to this energy with a poem by Mary Oliver.
The element of the second chakra is water. The energy of the second chakra is wrapped up in our sexuality and creativity. In conjunction with the energy of water we welcome in the adaptability and changeability that the movement of water brings. But we also tap into the freedom of water. Water wears away at anything that tries to hold it, overflowing or eroding to break through. Connect with this energy in the second chakra with this poem by Mary Oliver.
New Year's Day Wisdom
New Year's day marks the start of another cycle. We constantly witness cycles in our daily lives whether its through watching the inflow and outlfow of breath, the passing of the days, the cycle of the moon or the changing of the seasons. We are constantly part of cycles and living in cycles and they remind us that part of our work is letting go into the change. In a cycle there is always a start, a building, a dying away and a beginning again. If we try to hold on to hard in a part of that cycle, wishing things wouldn't change, we create a great deal of suffering for ourselves. The best thing we can do is welcome the energy of the time of the cycle we're in. For now, we start the new year. We are in the process of releasing the past year and preparing for the new. Here are the poems I shared New Year's Day for inspiration:
I was lucky enough to spend three days with a fabulous group of openhearted yogis a the Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth this past weekend. We shared beautiful practice, amazing food and the wonderful opportunity to watch seasons change right before our very eyes. As part of the weekend, I shared several poems, here they are to inspire you on your own journey:
Yoga teacher, sound healer and explorer of the inner landscape. Join me!